There isn’t much at our anchorage area other than the welcome swallows and the old, dilapidated jetty which we discovered is over a 100 years old and a minor tourist attraction. When the first telegraph lines were run connecting Western and South Australia, a manual repeater station was built here in Eucla around 1877 and a small township arose. The jetty was built and used to unload supplies. There’s not much left of it and after a few pix and a look, there’s little to keep one amused.
On the other hand, the township of Eucla (population ~45 permanent residents) is ~3 miles (5km) away up a dirt road and along the Eyre Highway and is considered an important stop when crossing the Nullarbor Plain. Lonely Planet didn’t have much to say about it, but for us, it was within walking distance, so a hike was in order. We didn’t wake till 0730 (sunrise is 0815) South Australia time, but we hadn’t changed our clocks yet. Just barely across the state line in Western Australia, we picked up a 2-1/2 hours time change in our favor. It was only 0500 here … plenty of leisure time to make plans for the day. Just sailing past that 129º longitude a few minutes and we entered a new Australian state AND picked up a couple of hours. How good is that? I might add that Eucla and this part of the most western extremity of Western Australia has its own time zone, Central Western Time Zone (UTC +0845), but we chose to ignore the 45 minute difference since we were just passing through.
We hadn’t been ashore since leaving Streaky Bay and we needed some exercise. We slathered on sunscreen, packed a couple of granola bars and lots of water and headed to shore. We beached the dinghy not far from the jetty, buried the mushroom anchor in deep sand and set off up a road deep with beach sand and rutted with 4WD tracks. I took the requisite close-up pictures of the jetty as we passed by, but didn’t dawdle.
It was evident from the moment we set foot on the beach that flies would be a problem. There were two types: big guys (like horseflies) that bit and then there were tiny, pain-in-the-ass, persistent flies that flew up your nose, got into your mouth and wangled their way behind your sunglasses to get at your eyes. No matter how much you swatted and waved, they just kept on coming back at you. We now know why swagman wear the Akubra hats with corks hanging all around. Otherwise, the flies drive you absolutely batty. My arm was tired from batting them away from my face. I drank some of my water to wash down the flies that I couldn’t spit out or up. David reassured me they were not red meat … a mild consolation. Taking pictures was a hurried affair. When we stopped for even a second, like to adjust a shoe or get out the water bottle, zoom …. the flies were on us like … well, on us like flies.
As we walked further, we could see buildings up on the bluff and cars, about Matchbox size, driving along the Eyre Highway. The Eyre Highway, by the way, is 1675 km (1041 mi) long and links Western Australia to South Australia via the Nullarbor Plain, a huge stretch of dry, arid, mostly uninhabited land. While we contemplated the vastness of this arid area, out of the bush stepped two emus … then another. For this, I needed to stop to take a photo. They just walked across the road rather leisurely … to get to the other side … and disappeared again in the bush, giving us no mind at all. The flies were all over us.
We continued along the road which had turned to hard, red, rutted soil, but was considerably easier to walk upon. A small landing strip, complete with stretched out wind sock and dilapidated, rusty shack was on our left and a simple sign announcing Eucla National Park was on our right. There was no specified entry to the park, just more of the same bush with big sand dunes beyond.
As we began the climb up the steep bluff, the road turned to macadam. We were glad the temp was a mild 25C (77F) and not higher. It was a dry, dusty, sweaty climb up to the hilltop … swatting flies with so much vigor works up a lather. At the top of the hill stood a monument to Edward John Eyre (pronounced “air”), the first European to cross the Nullarbor by land back in 1841. There were two other monuments close by, one commemorating lost fishermen and another a war memorial
We rounded the corner to find the Budget Motel. We were hoping for a small restaurant or a place to sit and rest, but disappointingly, there didn’t seem to be anyone around. We continued a bit further down the road and saw a welcoming Eucla sign, a bit weather-worn and worse for the wear, but welcome nonetheless. There was a town ahead.
Read more tomorrow about the big grey whale, a chance meeting with a local fisherman, the remains of the Telegraph Station that’s being gobbled up by the sand dunes and most importantly, the Nullarbor Nymph!